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UN rights expert urges Japan to increase immigrant protections

[JURIST] A UN rights official said Wednesday that immigrant workers entering Japan through government-run training programs face widespread racism and discrimination [press release], urging the country to increase immigrant protections. Special Rapporteur on the human rights of migrants [official website] Jorge Bustamante interviewed immigrants, civil servants, and academics in the country during an investigation that uncovered ongoing social and work-related discrimination [Kyodo News report] against non-Japanese workers. The government-created Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO) [official website], which supervises multiple training programs, has brought in more than 400,000 unskilled workers from 15 developing nations [JITCO materials] to train the workers so they can return to their countries with work-related skills. Yet many of the migrants, who are mostly Asian, enter Japan and face exploitation [UN News Centre report] in wages, health care, working conditions and child care. Opponents of the training programs urge the Japanese government to sign the UN International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families [text] and to create laws to protect the human rights of immigrants in Japan. Bustamante will submit a report of his findings to the UN Human Rights Council [official website] later this year.

Japan's human rights record received international attention earlier this year when ambassadors from eight countries met with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada [official profile] to urge Japan to sign an international treaty that would help prevent parental child abductions across borders [JURIST report]. Japan is the only G-7 country [backgrounder] that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction [text], which requires a country to return a child who has been "wrongfully removed" from his or her country of habitual residence. According to human rights groups, nearly 160,000 divorced or separated foreign and Japanese parents in Japan are not allowed to see their children [Japan Times report] under the current child custody laws.

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